As we start summer, I am sitting here listening to the thunder roll through… a rare sound these days, and reflecting on the farm activity over the spring. It has been pretty dry and we were hoping for rain, it’s a welcome sound for sure. Here in Iowa we are ruled by the ever-changing weather. During spring we expect to get rain but we also hope that it stays dry long enough to get the crops planted and the pig field rotated.
On our sustainable hog farm we annually rotate the pigs from one field to the next and plant corn where the pigs were the year before. This is a traditionalfarming practice that has been used for centuries, it harnesses natural fertilizer produced by the pigs to improve corn production, as well as decreases our reliance on chemical fertilizers. Moving all of the Porta-Huts- the pig houses- fencing, waterers, and feeders takes a lot of time and energy but it’s wonderful to work outside on a beautiful cool and sunny spring mornings.
After we move all of the equipment, my dad and I bed the hogs using straw and corn stalks left over from harvest last year that were rolled into golden round bales. This straw or cornstalk bedding is pitched into each house- let me tell you, it’s a real work out- and the rest of the bale is left in the pasture for the sows to use as they please.
A sow is a female pig that is used forbreeding and has already had at least one litter of pigs. There is nothing more rewarding than to move a group of gestating sows out to the pasture in the spring for the first time. It’s great to see them roam free out on the pasture and where they can root and wallow and just be a pig.